Three from Grays Harbor seek Dist. 19 seat

By Jackson Gardner

The (Centralia) Chronicle

Two Democrats will take on Republican incumbent Jim Walsh for his state representative position No. 1 seat in the 19th Legislative District.

Walsh, of Aberdeen, is seeking his third term in Dist. 19, which has historically elected Democratic lawmakers, while Marianna Everson, and Clint Bryson, both of Montesano, look to become state legislators for their first time.

The primary election is scheduled for Aug. 4 and ballots will be mailed out on July 15. Voters have until July 27 to update their information or register to vote online, or they have until 8 p.m. on the day of election to do it in person.

The district is large and stretches from Grays Harbor to the Columbia River and in some places goes from the coast to east of I-5. It includes parts of Grays Harbor, Cowlitz and Lewis counties and all of Pacific and Wahkiakum counties. It includes Aberdeen, Montesano, Elma and Longview.

Marianna Everson, D-Montesano

Marianna Everson, a Democrat from of Montesano, has had an unusual path to running for public office. She calls herself the “progressive Democrat” candidate of the field and says she is fully prepared to combat name calling and stigmatized words like “democratic-socialist” with discussions about policy that she says will lift up working class families.

In the late 2000s, Everson went to school at Grays Harbor College to become a nurse while she was a single mother. While she was in school, a house fire made Everson and her children homeless, but she says through various social services she was able to pull herself back up, complete school and become a nurse.

“I feel now — because the people of Washington helped me get through that, from the section 8 (housing) and the food stamps and all the things that I got help with as a single mom — it is my turn to give back to my community,” Everson said.

Everson’s vision of giving back to the community is through substantial investments in health care, local infrastructure that in turn will create jobs with livable wages, she says, housing and the COVID-19 response.

She is an advocate of a single-payer health care system, or getting as close to that system as the state possibly can, she says. Everson is a supporter of Whole Washington, an organization that is pushing to get universal health care legislation passed in the state and their effort manifested into Senate Bill 5222 in the last legislative session, though the bill did not make it out of committee.

“It would be better coverage than anybody has in their employer-based health insurance,” Everson said.

Everson also said that housing should be every Washingtonian’s right and not a privilege, noting that there are more empty homes in the state than homeless people.

“Everybody should have the right to have a home they can afford and the private sector is not providing for that,” Everson said.

For more information on Everson, visit: mariannaforthepeople.com

Clint Bryson, D-Montesano

A lifelong resident of District 19, Clint Bryson started his career as a foreman before he took on various leadership roles with his local union, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 76 (IBEW 76), which ultimately led him to becoming a full-time union representative from 2008 to 2019.

“My experience as a union representative has prepared me to have those conversations with opposing viewpoints,” Bryson said. “It’s pretty common that I’m in a room with one side having one view and the other side having another.”

Bryson added: “I’m not a real fan of divisive politics, I think we can get a lot more work done by working together and listening to both sides of the aisle,” Bryson said.

Bryson was elected as a Montesano City Councilor in 2017.

Bryson said his campaign is pillared by three aspects: rural economic development, education and health care, which he says are “universal needs for our citizens.”

Among other avenues of economic development, Bryson believes adding more union jobs would benefit his community substantially. He said he also wants to protect natural resource jobs while also being considerate of the land, water and air quality for future generations.

In terms of education, as someone who began his career through an electrical apprenticeship program, Bryson is a strong advocate for community and technical college programs and job-based training. Bryson said he would work to improve the availability of such programs around the district if he were elected.

The coronavirus pandemic has exposed the fragility of rural healthcare systems, says Bryson, and he would like to see more investments made into the current system.

“I think we need to make sure we are protecting our health care infrastructure, keeping our hospitals viable and making sure our citizens have the care they need, both providers and hospital-based,” Bryson said.

For more information on Bryson, visit: electclintbryson.com

Jim Walsh, R-Aberdeen

Jim Walsh, an Aberdeen resident, started his career in the private sector working for Merritt Publishing shortly after he graduated from Amherst College in Massachusetts. He eventually bought a portion of the company to create Silverlake Publishing, which he has owned for about 24 years.

Walsh got started in the political arena in the 2000’s by getting involved with the Republican Liberty Caucus, a libertarian arm of the Republican party, at the local level in Grays Harbor County.

From his work at the local level, he got more involved in the Republican Party at the state level and was elected as the vice chairman of the Washington State Republican Party in 2014.

In 2016, Walsh flipped the script of his hometown 19th legislative district that has consistently voted for Democrats when he was narrowly elected as a state representative, carving out a win by 136 votes in the general election. According to Walsh, he is just the third Republican to represent District 19 since the 1940s.

In 2018, Walsh won his seat again in another tightly contested general election by a margin of 484 votes.

Walsh said the platform he is running on is to restore “a constitutional balance of power, which is lacking in Olympia.”

“We can talk about COVID, we can talk about riots, we can talk about lots of current events, but the the thing they all share is there is a lack of real checks and balances in Olympia and I think I have certainly established myself as one of the checks on the executive overreach,” Walsh said.

Policy wise, Walsh said he wants to defend local industries, which he notes are primarily natural resource-based.

“I want to see greater timber production off of private and public lands and I want to see aquaculture farmers — oyster farmers, clam farmers and commercial fisherman — I want to see the state move off of their throats,” Walsh said.

For more information on Walsh, visit: electjimwalsh.org.